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Ali 12, Us 11, Mitch Mcconnell 10, Washington 8, Don 7, U.s. 5, Joe Biden 4, Harry Reid 4, Phillips 4, America 4, Geico 4, Steven 3, New York 3, Boehner 3, Grover Norquist 3, Dana 3, Cnn 3, Aleve 2, John Avlon 2, Steven Moore 2,
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  CNN    CNN Newsroom    News/Business. Latest on the day's top news stories  
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    December 30, 2012
    4:00 - 5:00pm PST  

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don lemon live at the cnn world headquarters in atlanta. ja and i'm ali velshi at cnn in new york. >> our nation is perched on the edge of the fiscal cliff and we're keeping a close eye on negotiations. >> we're going to spell out what the talks could mean to you and if lawmakers fail to reach a deal what the fallout will be for you and your wallet. you're looking at pretty pictures of capitol hill. i don't know if the scene is pretty but the pictures are. >> the lights are on, the question is, is anybody home? what seems to be a bitter stalemate between democrats and republicans on the fiscal cliff, we have learned of a bit of change this evening with the negotiations. for one, we have learned that the senate will reconvene tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. that means no decision tonight. we have also learned senator mitch mcconnell, the republican minority leader, has had conversations directly with vice president biden. mcconnell had been working with senate majority leader harry reid, but he and biden have gotten things done when working
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together in the past. can they do it now? let's go to dana bash. dana, what do you think? is it promising? can they go it now? >> reporter: well, let's start there. it certainly has happened before between these two men, and it's happened before when democrats on capitol hill are either split or have gotten, frankly, just too frustrated with the republican counterparts to have conversations to be able to find bipartisan agreement. these are the two men who negotiated an extension of the bush era tax cuts for two years. that happened two years ago when republicans had a lot of political capital because they just won the house in a big way. whether or not these two men are actually going to be the ones to strike a deal, we're not sure, but we are told, our ted barrett and jessica yellin and i are told by multiple sources that it does seem that at this point, at this late hour, the talks are primarily centered around and between these two men, between mitch mcconnell, the senate
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republican leader, and joe biden, the vice president. harry reid, the senate democratic leader is certainly very well-informed. he's kept apprised of what's going on just as the house speaker on the other side of the capitol is as well but these two men are probably hopefully going to work late into the night, maybe early in the morning to see if they can come up with some way to put this in real terms for americans, some way to avert the taxes for every american going up in a big way starting tomorrow night. >> so it's no burning the midnight oil for the senate because they're gone, and congress now, do we know? >> reporter: the senate has decided to formally -- the senate majority leader harry reid said about an hour ago that effectively there won't be any votes tonight. so the hope for getting a deal today that the senate can vote on which was the hope even going into the day, that's not going to happen. in fact, the house, they brought people back for a vote tonight just to have people here in case the senate could vote on something that they could send over to the house. none of that is going to happen
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right now. the senate is not going to come in for any votes until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow. that is just 13 hours before the clock strikes midnight so they are certainly cutting it close. not a lot of -- certainly a lot of pessimism in the halls here. a lot of tension. a lot of anxiety. a lot of frustration, and certainly that frustration is not just within the walls and halls of congress. it's coming from outside in a big way. >> dana bash, stay tuned or we'll stay tuned to you. thank you. >> thanks, don. >> congress has decided not to burn the midnight oil tonight. we've been seeing people leaving. dana has been watching them leave. the question now is there's one more day, tomorrow. is tomorrow going to bring any change? by the way, this has got to get through the senate, through the house. senator mitch mcconnell says interestingly, something must be done. >> the consequences of this are too high for the american people to be engaged in a political
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messaging campaign. i'm interested in getting a result here. i was here all day yesterday. as i kated, we submitted our latest proposal at 7:00 p.m. last night. we're willing to work with whoever, whoever can help. there's no single issue that remains an impossible sticking point. >> wow. wow. john avlon, mitch mcconnell was here all day yesterday, all day yesterday. they worked to try to get a deal. let me tell you, there are two parts to this thing, two parts to the fiscal cliff. the two biggest parts are, one, the sequester, which only came into existence because of the sue pid debt deal they couldn't do in august of 2011. so we have had 516 days notice on that. the other part of it is the expiration of the bush tax cuts which came into place at the beginning of the year 2001 with the understanding that they would go on for ten years and expire and then joe biden and mitch mcconnell extended them
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for two years. so half of this thing we've had 12 years' notice on and the other half we've had 516 days' notice on, but guess what? mitch mcconnell and his buddies worked on saturday. wow, wow, that's fantastic. >> it really -- it's touching, isn't it? just a little working weekend. a nice long christmas break. the house disappeared for the holidays after boehner's plan "b" failed. where is the sense of urgency? everyone is home at night and hopefully we're all putting our hopes on mcconnell and joe biden having a productive dinner, but by god, to your point, this has been going on for not just weeks or months, but years. and the fact that they're trying to cobble together some kind of patch to avoid the political pain and the economic pain more importantly to the country that's set to kick in tomorrow night at midnight is, frankly, pathetic, and it's a political problem, but it's an economic problem, and it's entirely self-created. when marshall blackburn was
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talking earlier and trying to blame the senate, look at the mirror. don't block at the other guy radio right now. you have to own this, and if particularly in the house of representatives because it's the republicans in the house that have been the biggest stumbling block. we got 98% agreement, both parties and the president agree 98% of americans shouldn't have their taxes raised and yet we're stalled. >> let me talk about consumer confidence. we spent a lot of time before the election riding around the country talking to people about how they feel. some people don't really like politics. they'd rather do without it. some people don't really like the economy even though you got to live in it. but everybody -- but what we feel and how we spend dictates how well this economy goes. consumer confidence is something that's been riding higher and higher. i'm going to ask our control room to put up a chart of consumer confidence going back about half of this year. it was going higher and higher and higher, and then right around october we started to see it soften a little bit and then
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go down lower and now people are starting to give up a little bit. you will have seen spending of the holiday season will come out a little weaker than expected. that's really what drives our economy. and that's what people are feeling. so, john, when people tell me how much more am i going to pay in taxes, that's important. there's no question. we don't have $2,500 or $3,500 extra in most households to give up. but that's less important than the fact that people are starting to think things are not as good as they were. >> you see that in the last month in consumer confidence. that decision to downgrade us where they specifically cited a year ago plus with the debt ceiling debacle, when they cited an atmosphere of partisan brinksmanship making the decision-making process less predictab predictable, less stable than previously thought, that's what the american people are internalizing with the consumer confidence numbers. they're looking at washington play chicken with the fiscal cliff and they're saying, hold on, we have this economy that seems to be gathering some steam
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but washington, government, congress in particular is the single greatest impediment. it's a rational decision. >> get the act together. john avlon, thank you, my friend. don, it's a lot of intangibles here, don. this is the thing we have to think about. it's not just the tangibles of how much your taxes might go up or how much this might go down. it's the intangible of confidence. it's trust. you lose somebody's trust, how long does it take to get it back. it doesn't just come back tomorrow because you vote on something. >> i can't believe mitch mcconnell was there all day yesterday. >> it's crazy. >> he's working on a saturday. i never work on a saturday. wait a minute, i work every saturday. >> you get your job done. you don't get to tell your bosses, i'm going to do this another time. i'll get down to it in 516 days. >> but one day, one day i will be able to do that, at least i'd like to think that. moving on, at the edge of the fiscal cliff, will the economy get sucked back into a
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recession or is a compromise possible? words of wisdom from a wall street journal senior writer right after this break. "wall street journal" senior writer right after this break. [ cellphone chirping ] [ buzzing ] bye dad. drive safe. k. love you. [ chirping, buzzing continues ] recession or is a compromise [ buzzing continues ] [ male announcer ] the sprint drive first app. blocks and replies to texts while you drive. we can live without the &.
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[ male announcer ] when diarrhea hits, kaopectate stops it fast. powerful liquid relief speeds to the source. fast. [ male announcer ] stop the uh-oh fast with kaopectate. we hear plent at this of chatter from pundits that democrats and republicans need to come together. let's get real. president obama has already given a lot more ground than the republicans have, so my advice to senator reid and president obama would be to stop trying to negotiate with republicans who, like spoiled children, have no interest in compromise. remember who won the election? >> no vote tonight on the fiscal cliff. what are the chances of lawmakers cobbling a compromise tomorrow? would real pain start to hit everyone in the form of tax
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hikes and spending cuts? what other options do lawmakers have as a last resort. steven moore joins us from washington. steven is a senior economics writer with "the wall street journal." he writes op-eds. he's involved in the opinion pages. he's also a co-founder of the organization called club for growth, which has really been at the forefront of fighting tax increases across the board. so, you know, sometimes, steven, on tv we talk about grover norquist and a lot of people really don't like him. you think grover has the right idea. you have colleague es in the senate, in the house of representatives. we have talked about this endlessly for many months and we both sort of went into the last few days thinking they'll get a deal, they'll do it. it will increase some tacks on the rich and we'll figure out a number. i think both of us put forward it would be $500,000, the threshold. were we wrong or what? >> well, you know, ali, i love
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you, but i don't want to spend new year's eve with you and we may be doing that. i don't know. look, i still think -- i have been saying this for the last three weeks, there's going to be a deal at the 11th hour. now i'm not quite as confident as i was 24 hours ago, but, you know, as you and i have talked about many times, there's some deep philosophical disagreements here about taxes, about how much the government should be spending. i listened to the gentleman who said president obama won the election so he should get his way, but the republicans say, look, we won the house. i do want to see a deal done. and by the way, i don't want to see taxes go up, ali. you know that. i think it's bad for the economy -- >> but you also generally agree if there was going to be a deal, they're going to go up on some people. >> yeah. look, taxes are probably going to go up on the rich because president obama did -- you know, he went around the country saying if he was re-elected, that's what he would do. but, you know, as i told you many times, even if we don't get a deal here in the next 24 hours, this is not thelma and
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louise. this is a slope, not a cliff that's going to cause a crash in the economy. i do think it looks bad for the country. it's beneath us to go into this new year not knowing what the tax code is going to look like, what kind of spending cuts will go in. this is politics at its very lowest. >> let's talk about a week ago one of the things that you and i both thought shall i thought it was a bit cynical that john boehner would put forward this plan "b." it sort of showed a lack of faith in his negotiations with the president but he put forward a plan that would increase taxes on those earning a million dollars or more per year and grover norquist to whom everybody has signed this pledge, this never increase taxes pledge, actually looked it over and said, that's all right. i can live with that. so he gave these republicans cover to vote in favor of this thing, and they didn't. what on earth is going to make these hard line conservatives happy? >> a lot of them just don't want to in good conscience vote for a tax increase on anybody, and i respect that. i think if you get a deal, ali,
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you're probably going to get a deal where nancy pelosi and the house is going to have to produce a hundred or so votes from her caucus because you probably got at least 50 house republicans who just don't want to vote for any tax increase. you could possible that kind of deal together and if there's any chance of this getting done, it will be that kind of deal where you get 70 votes in the senate, democrats and republicans alike, and then you get maybe 100 republicans and a few more democrats than that that put it together in the house. but here is the point. we got these big fiscal problems, and this is -- ali, we're going to be talking about this for a year no matter what happens with the short-term deal because we still have the debt ceiling, we have a budget deal on the spending. we've got a big financial crisis on our hands, and this is, unfortunately, just act one. >> the sad part is we don't have to have anything that looks like a financial crisis. we could actually have a good economy. >> let me say one thing -- >> that's the problem.
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>> let me say one thing about this issue of the debt downgrade. i don't put any credence in the s&p and the other bond rating agencies. look what happened, when was it about a year and a half -- >> a year and a half ago. >> what has happened to the bond interest rates? they've gone down. >> the borrowing cost for america has come down. absolutely right. >> right. >> but you know why? because everybody else is worse off than we are. >> well, that is true, but i'm saying if there was a huge crisis and people thought that the federal government was not going to repay its debt -- i will say this loud and clear to your listeners and your viewers, i do not believe there's any scenario in the next 10 or 20 years that the united states governme does not repay its debt. we are good for our debt and i think this idea that this kind of fearmongering that the u.s. is not going to repay its debt obligations and the full faith and credit of the united states government, we're not going to give that up. >> a very valid point. you believe we need to get spending under control. we don't knees to raise taxes but you don't want to do it on
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the back of fearmongering that is responsible and i appreciate that. and steven, i love you, too, and i really do hope that you and i do not ring in the new year together. >> me, too, but have a happy one anyway. >> thank you, sir. don, you and i might. >> what is wrong -- ali, you're a cool guy. why wouldn't steven want to spend new year's with you? >> i agree. the three of us might be spending new year's together so let's not speak too soon. >> steven, i have seen you everywhere. you were on two networks at once and then you're on the third network after you were off the other one. >> you know, i was supposed to be skiing today. i actually skied this morning and rushed back, but i know one casualty of the fiscal cliff and that's me. >> there you go. >> thank you, thank you. so the senate won't vote tonight. house speaker john boehner says his side of the capitol can't solve this crisis. starting to look pretty hopeless in washington. maybe a member of the house can give us a reason to be optimistic. chris van hollen is a maryland democrat.
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there he is, congressman, do you believe we're going to go over this cliff, yes or no? >> i still think we have a 50/50 chance of averting the cliff. i thought the odds were a little higher this morning, but, look, obviously the clock is winding down. what we do know is negotiations are ongoing. there was a big road block earlier today with the so-called chain cpi issue, but that seems to have been put aside. so we'll have to see, but, again, the fundamental issue has been the same throughout this process which is that our republican colleagues are trying to do everything we can to prevent higher income individuals to pay a little bit more to reduce our deficit, and that's what's been going on for the last six months. that's what the conversation in the election was all about, but here we are. >> can you walk us through this? you said the chain cpi. i was told it was off the table. is it still on the table? >> earlier today i would have
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said the odds of an agreement was very low because mitch mcconnell, the republican leader, had put that into the talks. that apparently is no longer part of it. >> walk us through this, what's happening right now. are we at 250 or 400? what are we doing with unemployment? what's going on? >> well, again, there's -- no one has agreed to any particular threshold, whether it's 250, whether it's 400. unemployment insurance is something that is the an absolute requirement. the president has said and i totally agree that it's important that folks who are out of work through no fault of their own continue to get help. it's not just good for their families but the whole neighborhood and the local economy. one of the big issues in the senate has been a republican demand to try to get a very sweetheart estate tax break, an inheritance tax break for the very wealthiest. we're not even talking about the top 1%. we're talking about a fraction of 1%. we're talking about providing
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7,200 estates next year, these are couples with estates of over $10 million, there are about 7,200 estates in the country in 2013 that would fall into this category, providing them with this windfall tax break of an average of $1.2 million. so it's part of this continuing effort to hold the country and hold middle class taxpayers hostage to try to extract these extra tax breaks for the very wealthiest. >> congressman, listen, i understand what you're saying. for the average person who is sitting at home watching this, they're saying, you know, these people are coming on, these guys are coming on at the last minute from both parties and they're spinning. they're spinning, they're doing their thing, and that's what you do. but everyone wants to know regardless of where you are right now and the cpi and the unemployment and all of that, that that should have been resolved a long time ago. why is it that we're at the final hour, and you're saying it's the republicans' fault. the republicans are saying it's the democrats' fault.
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why are we at the final hour and we're -- i'm sitting here on television talking to you about this? it doesn't have to be that way. >> no, it doesn't have to, and it shouldn't be, and i think the american people are actually following the facts in ts conversation very closely and i hope they will because i know it's easy to take the line, look, it's a pox on all their houses. i just encourage people to look at the facts. it's a fact that as we speak republicans in the senate are trying to get this $1.2 million average tax break for 7,200 estates in the country next year. that's a fact. that's not spin. so the president said it best this morning. we had a national conversation about this. it was called the election. the president couldn't have been clearer, and the reality is that there are lots of people in the congress, especially in the house, the republican caucus, who just don't respect the fact that the president won talking about these very issues, saying that we needed to take a
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balanced approach as a country, that we needed to country with the cuts, and we've done over a trillion cuts already. the president has said he'd do another $1.2 trillion in cuts but he also believes higher income individuals should pay a little more so we don't ask folks on medicare with a median income of $22,000 to see a big increase in their burden. i would just encourage you and everybody in the media, too, because it is easy to point fingers -- >> i'm not pointing fingers here. i think we're trying to just get to some answers here. and i understand what you're saying about, you know, people won't accept the outcome of the election. i get that. but the people in washington who the president is fighting against did not vote -- the american people did it. this is something the american people were doing and we were deciding on what should happen in a voting booth, that would be different but you cannot really use this argument because these are the people who did not elect the president of the united
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states and they happen to be lawmakers who he has to come to some sort of compromise with. >> in the house we're not even asking for their votes in support of the president's plan. we're simply asking for the house of representatives to have a vote on the president's plan. after all, in the senate, which is democratic controlled, they had a vote on the republican plan to extend tax breaks for everybody, including the wealthiest. it was voted down. all we're asking for in the house, we're not asking speaker boehner to agree with our position. we're asking him to have a vote on it here in the house, and we believe there are enough republicans and many of them have been public about it, who would join with democrats for a majority vote. so we're not trying to, you know, insist that they see the world a particular way. we're just saying allow the democratic process to work its women. after all, speaker boehner has been engaged in these conversations with the president. he decided to abandoned that process. he came to the house and he asked his republican colleagues for a vote on his plan, and his own colleagues said no.
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so what we're asking for is just a vote on the president's plan. if it goes down, we'll have to live with that, but why not have a vote? >> all right. thank you, congressman. i have to get to break and thank you very much for coming on. >> thank you. >> appreciate it. we'll be right back. you can do e same time. you can watch videos and text. or you could watch the earnings report and take notes, like we're supposed to. so... can i get it? yeah. okay either of you put together the earnings report yet? yes, me totally. what? why don't you tackle the next quarter. you eat yet? polynesian? pu pu platter? yup! keep up the good work. i will keep up the good work. do more with the new samsung galaxy note ii. i have a cold, and i took nyquil, but i'm still "stubbed" up. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil doesn't unstuff your nose. what? [ male announcer ] it doesn't have a decongestant. no way. [ male announcer ] sorry. alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms plus has a fast acting decongestant to relieve your stuffy nose.
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fiscal cliff, not the only deadline pressing on congress today. a five-year farm subsidies bill that expired in september was never renewed. senate members did develop an extension designed to prevent some food prices from going through the roof in january. the secretary of agriculture tells cnn lack of a farm bill could hit you right in the refrigerator. >> well, if you like anything made with milk, you're going to
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be impacted by the fact that there's no farm bill. because if there's not an extension of existing bill or a new bill basically on january 1st or shortly thereafter, permanent agriculture law goes back into place, 1949 law, which basically means the government, the federal government, will go back in the business of strongly supporting the dairy industry by raising the price support or support for dairy products to $38 a hundred weight which is almost double the price of milk today. >> if the house decides to take up the bill today, the full congress could vote on it tonight. president barack obama said he was optimistic that a deal on the fiscal cliff could be reached. that might have been a mistake. ahead, more on the fiscal cliff and the dwindling hope that a deal can be reached. it's all part of our special coverage of the fiscal cliff crisis with me and ali velshi. ...but he'd wait for her forever, for any reason, and would always be there with the biggest welcome home.
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someone get me a latte will ya, please? thereof he is, mr. ali velshi. are you done with your slippery chicken? >> i've cleaned the plate. >> ali, have you no shame, young man? >> no. i'm sticking with this thing until it is done. >> yeah. >> well, i just got my big glass of ice water here and i may have to get some dinner. >> you're a healthier eater than i am. >> no. if you knew what i ate this holiday, i'm surprised i can even fit on the screen. let's get our viewers up to speed on the talks that are trying to prevent the looming fiscal cliff. >> with the fate of the nation in the balance the senate is going home. that's right. no vote tonight on the senate side. the chamber will reconvene tomorrow at the bright and early hour of 11:00 a.m. eastern.
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>> oh, my gosh. >> 11:00 a.m. i would have thought they might have gone home for a few hours, had a shower, and come back to work. with just 13 hours until the deadline they will reconvene. the house is waiting on the senate. so nothing is getting done there. if you bet this would come down to the wire, you were right. >> gosh, they have to get up before the crack of noon. i can't believe it. >> i know. >> of course, not everyone on capitol hill will have an early bedtime. republican senate leader mitch mcconnell already working with vice president joe biden on a deal, ali. talks between the two parties could continue late into the night, i guess, but with each minute that passes, our chances of avoiding this fiscal cliff, well, they become slimmer and slimmer and slimmer. >> except they better get something done. if they don't get something done, just about everybody will have a tax increase and see spending cut starting january 1st. what is preventing lawmakers from reaching a deal in representative jack kingston is a republican from georgia. he joins us now from d.c. congressman, good to see you. thank you for being with us. let's just discuss this for a
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minute. you know, taxes, whether taxes should go up or not is an interesting concept because some people are just religious about it, right? we talked to steven moore, grover norquist, pat toomey. some just think taxes should never go up on people. others think if you increase taxes it will hurt the economy. that may actually have some truth to it. but there's a tone deafness out there that has now superseded all of this, congressman, and it is -- we just heard mitch mcconnell, i don't know why people say things like this, but they make people wonder about legislators saying on the floor of the senate, i worked all day saturday to get this thing done. there's been -- i can't say this enough times. you have had 516 days to get this done and you have had 12 years to deal with the bush era tax cuts. what's the problem? >> you know, ali, i can't agree with you more. we actually passed a budget in the house back in the springtime, passed it to the senate. the senate was unable to pass a budget at all. they actually voted down the
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president's budget 97-0. so while the democrats are talking so much about the president's leadership, they did not support him back in the spring. in august the house passed a continuation of the current tax rate, a bill which the senate could have taken up in august, amended, changed whatever level they wanted, sent it back to the house. we could have started back then. as late as a week ago we passed another bill dealing with sequestration, and the senate hasn't taken that up. so the fact they're working saturday, it's a good thing. maybe they should have worked christmas day as well. but, you know, we're here right now on the floor of the lo. >> congressman kingston, you paint a picture that's going to make my viewers want to come out and hug all you congressmen for all the hard work you're doing and the soul lutions you're trying to find. a week ago your caucus couldn't even agree on putting your leader's bill to a vote.
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the so-called plan "b" that would increase taxes on the top i don't know puny percentage of a percent of earners, people earning more than $1 million a year. does that trouble you that much, that people earning more than $1 million a year would see 4.6%age points higher on their tax rate on that part over $1 million. does that trouble you a great deal? >> ali, as you know we fell short of republican votes but one reason we did is we could not get one single democrat who would stand with the businesses, the small businesses, the family farms across the country and permanent debt tax relief. i thought it was a decent package. i thought that the senate would probably amend it. they could not live with that million dollar level. as you know, the president said $400,000. the senate right nows at $250,000. until we get a bill back from the senate, we can't act on it.
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but the house, as i have said, has moved three times and passed legislation and moved it on to the senate and the senate has not done anything yet under harry reid's leadership, and, you know -- >> what's your best bet? what's your best bet what that number is going to be? >> ali, i think they're probably going to come back closer to the president at the $400,000 range, maybe the house will counter in the $600,000 range. that's just one little guy speaking from his spot. also, i don't really know, but my suspicion is they will pass some sort of bill tomorrow afternoon. the house will look it over. we will probably not be able to vote on it tomorrow. maybe tomorrow night. we'll probably have a lot of amendments. as you know, we have 435 type "a" personalities in the house. lots of people are going to want to put their stamp on it, but this thing is, as you're saying, it's going down to the wire and it will go down to the wire. and perhaps we even have to make it retroactive if we go past the
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deadline. >> congressman, thanks for taking your time. i hope you stay there. tell your folks at the senate to keep working. tell your folks in the house to keep working. we'll keep working. >> we're here, ali. >> don? >> you know what, ali? i'm just making -- it sounded a lot like the interview i did with chris van hollen. he said the republicans they're not budging, they need to vote. he said, no, the democrats, they're not voting. >> too bad we don't have phones and blackberries and too bad all those senators and congressmen don't work in the same building. otherwise they could all probably work it out. >> and computers and monitors on the wall. >> all of these politicians, they're all making good points. it's not that they're not valid points. it's okay. it's okay to disagree. it's not okay to not negotiate. it's not okay to not compromise. it's not okay to get a deal. >> maybe we need to get a mediator. like a congressional and senate mediator. >> maybe that's the idea. don't we elect these people to
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do this? isn't that the point? that's what you go and do. >> yeah. yes. producers are like, okay, let's move on. you should hear them in our ears. lawmakers tell you to find a solution would mean a big impact for small businesses in america. but my next guest thinks going off the cliff could be the solution here. with a machine. what? customers didn't like it. so why do banks do it? hello? hello?! if your bank doesn't let you talk to a real person 24/7, you need an ally. hello? ally bank. your money needs an ally. i'm going to dream about that steak. i'm going to dream about that tiramisu. what a night, huh?
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we're back with our continuing coverage of the fiscal cliff negotiations in washington as the nation approached the called fiscal cliff. people are taking steps to cushion their families from the plunge, and this includes small businesses who are already feeling the pinch. joining me now from chicago, cnn ireporter and small business owner valerie. did i say that right, valerie? >> you did. hi, don. >> and in dallas john arnsmeier founder and ceo of small businesses majority. thank you both for joining us here. it's good to talk to people who this is actually affecting. what are the real impacts for small business owners here? >> well, don, we don't want to go over the cliff. it's going to have too big an impact on an economy that's really starting to recover right now. and, look, we're not going to get -- realistically we're not going to get a comprehensive tax
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and spending deal in the next 24 hours. what we have to do is pretty simple. it's what the president has requested the congress do. we net to pass -- maintain the tax cuts for the middle class which will benefit 97% of small businesses. we need to keep pegging the alternative minimum tax to inflati inflation. we need to continue with the unemployment insurance. we'd love to see a continuation of the payroll tax cut, i don't think that's going to happen, and we need to put on hold the draconian spending cuts that are slated to happen in the next day or two. with that we would be able to keep money in the hands of america's small business owners and their customers. >> so small business owners as you're saying, you need specific and you'd like to see them get into this particular -- whatever negotiations are happening now initially, you want all of what you said in that? >> everything i just listed is supported by the vast majority of people in congress actually, and it's really unfortunate that
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the deal is being held up by sort of an ideological obsession with tax cuts on millionaires and on the upper 2% bracket. we've done expensive polling of small businesses across the country on these issues. they don't want to see the fiscal cliff happen. they want to see the tax cuts for middle class people maintained and they want to see all the other things i suggested. these are relatively simple things. we don't have to get into the complexities of major spending cuts, entitlements. we can just do these things the president suggestened and put oursds in a position to tackle these more broad fiscal issues next year. >> valerie, i promise i'm going to get you in. are you a democrat? not valerie, john. >> well, we're a nonpartisan organization. >> because you're saying these things the president wants to get in. is this ideological for you because i'm reading between the lines of what you're saying. you're saying it appears this is
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being held up and it appears you're saying the republicans are holding it up. >> well, the president has put forth some pragmatic temporary solutions to get us to the point where we continue go over the fiscal cliff, and he said he's willing to sit down and talk with republicans about a broader deal next year. so that's really -- we have 24 hours here and that's what we need to be focused on right now. >> got you. >> you know, again, the polling that we do scientific and everything i just cited is supported by small business owners across the board which are plurality republican. these are not democratic points of view. these are pragmatic points of view that most small business owners and most americans support. >> i want to make it clear. people watching sometimes hear things and they say that guy must be a democrat. you are a non -- a bipartisan organization that the viewer may not get that and they may think you're coming on and speaking from a democratic point of view and you're speaking from a bipartisan point of view. valerie, what do you need to
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hear from congress, from washington right now? >> well, frankly, i don't mind if we go over the cliff. i'm all about balancing a budget and gaining a healthy economy. and i would like to see everybody start working in a bipartisan way coming together, coming up with a solution, eliminating the politics, and just bring a solution to the table that's long-term not short-term. short-term is what we had. i heard ali say earlier today that others are afraid of kicking the can down the road. i am afraid of that. i think we're all tired of it, and 500-plus days to work on this is a long time. i'm more concerned that if we don't get this together now, if we don't look for a long-term soluti solution, that we'll never get to the spending issue, which i truly believe is our problem. >> that's your biggest issue as a small business owner?
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you think it's spending? >> well, as a small business owner, i'm more concerned about a healthy economy. i think tax rate increase, tax rate hikes are not going to be the solution because we have tax code reform that needs to be done. and without that, it's not going to make a bit of difference. so we need to take a look at the whole package, and we can't do it with a band-aid constantly. that's what's been happening. so, yes, i'm all for going over the cliff, taking the pain now because down the road it's only going to be worse, and i'm more interested in the burden this is going to put on our children and their children down the road with the deficit. >> yeah, you're right. take the pain now, otherwise you'll have to do it further down the road. >> exactly. >> valerie, thank you very much. john, we appreciate you as well. as the fiscal cliff looms, there's another problem facing the u.s. economy. the debt ceiling. you heard her talk about that and about spending. the debt ceiling.
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both republicans and democrats agree that there need to be changes in the u.s. tax code. that's just one of the thorny issues facing lawmakers' last ditch efforts to avoid going over the fiscal cliff, but there's this other thing happening, the debt ceiling. let's go to jean standing by in
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new york. i don't think she ever leaves the place. she's a senior writer for cnnmoney.com. the debt ceiling, $16.4 trillion. that's the united states' borrowing limit. that's actually the thing that got us into this ridiculous pickle in the first place. you remember that night in august of 2011 when we were battling about the debt ceiling. they couldn't make a deal and so they pushed it off to today, to tomorrow. we're going to hit the debt ceiling again tomorrow. the treasury can probably find $200 billion through what they call extraordinary measures which is sort of shifting things around a bit. but at some point in the next month, this is going to be a big problem. we're not really dealing with this, are we? >> oh, my god, no. we're not even coming close to it. we will basically have the same sort of brinksmanshiplike experience brinksmanship experience in february or somewhere around there because we're going to hit the debt ceiling tomorrow. the treasury secretary has said
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i've got about $200 billion of so-called extraordinary measures to buy us some time. ironically, if we go over the cliff it might buy him a little more time. for anyone who remembers the summer of 2011, and i still have ticks from the experience -- >> yes, it was horrible. >> we're going to have a big fight over spending cuts. no problem with the fight over spending cuts, the problem is if you tie it to the debt ceiling, you push the u.s. to the brink of default, and that's where it becomes unacceptable. we're the world's largest economy, we shouldn't be messing with the full faith and credit. >> we shouldn't fearmonger the u.s. isn't able to pay its bills, but, in fact, technically speaking once you hit the debt ceiling, not that you're able to, the treasury can't cut checks. >> it's the law. it's supposed to keep a curb on spending, but it doesn't work that way. lawmakers will pass spending
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increases and tax cuts from the same place they do the debt ceiling. it's a decision to spend more money and give more tax breaks, so it's kind of a perverse way to talk about spending cuts. >> it's kind of like you are outspending and not conscious of what you're -- your credit limit is. it's perverse, something wrong with the system, a lot of people say we shouldn't have a debt ceiling because countries don't -- it's sort of an accounting problem, but others say if you didn't have the debt ceiling, you'd let the government spend endlessly and they probably would. that's the argument. >> okay, then you can tie the debt ceiling decision, the government accountability office has been calling for this a long time, same day u yo make the decision to increase spending so it's clear to everybody what you're actually passing. you're passing a number of bills on to the treasury that they are going to have to pay. that's all treasury is doing, paying our bills.
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that's it. >> jeanne, you make it clear, look up her stuff, you'll be a ph.d in economy, economics stuff by tomorrow morning. thanks, jeanne. >> thank you. they seem to be -- that seems to be the phrase for many americans when it comes to the fiscal cliff stalemate. we'll hear what some of you had to say next. Ñe
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let's face it, fiscal cliff has most people outraged. we asked for you to send in your thoughts on this matter, and boy did you ever do it. we opened up a can of worms when we did this. joining us from orlando, and we received lots of feedback from our eye reporters, terry, i want you to listen and get your reaction to one of them who holds nothing back, calling lawmakers spoiled brats. >> this whole fiscal cliff mess shows how incredibly out of touch you are with the way people really live in this country. you are off in la-la land and everyone's saying how you're acting like a bunch of spoiled brats who are more interested in being right than doing the right thing and actually representing the people who elected you. >> understand why she's upset, because most americans -- i don't know, do you think most americans have an idea of what
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all this fiscal cliff chatter means? >> oh, yes. oh, yes, don, i think people have a very, very good idea, and it's not just a selfish idea, either, about they'll have less money in their paychecks as companies take out more withholding or the payroll tax holiday goes away. it's not just a selfish thing, it's a great fear for our children, grandchildren, that the america we contributed to, where we elect representatives, pride ourselves for being a great democracy, that it won't be there because of what's going on in washington right now. >> i have a few seconds left, literally, but you said today and tomorrow are big deals, a lot happens. >> not only today, but tomorrow for the stock market is the last day you can sell stocks where you have gains. tomorrow will be the last day they can sell them and get the benefit of the current tax rates on capital gains.
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so you can see some volatility in the stock market. it is not a reason to sell at the end of the year, but it is a reason to continue investing regularly, but take your gains tomorrow if you want the lowest rates. >> wish we had more time. terry savage, thank you, appreciate you joining us from orlando. ali is in new york, for ali and -- there he is. got your slippery chicken out of the way? >> i'm done. i'm finished. coke zero is gone, i'll be here all night. >> bi, we'll be here if something happens. see you at 10:00 eastern. ill "s. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil doesn't unstuff your nose. what? [ male announcer ] it doesn't have a decongestant. no way. [ male announcer ] sorry. alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms plus has a fast acting decongestant to relieve your stuffy nose. [ sighs ] thanks! [ male announcer ] you're welcome. that's the cold truth! [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus. ♪ oh what a relief it is! ♪ [ male announcer ] to learn more about the cold truth and save $1 visit alka-seltzer on facebook.
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